Watch and Wait for the Return of the Lord

Beneath the tree in the courtyard, I was talking with my uncle and elder cousin amid a pleasant atmosphere …

My uncle said cheerfully, “In a twinkling, you’ve grown up. I’m so delighted to see you working for the Lord and shepherding the church. Um, Xiaojing, what have you been preaching recently?”

I quickly answered, “About watching and waiting, for the Lord is coming soon.”

Uncle nodded and said, “Yep, watching and waiting is so important. The gospel of the Lord Jesus has spread to the ends of the earth. The various signs show that the day of the Lord’s return has come. We should watch and wait all the time, and the Lord will come back and take us to the heavenly home at any time. It seems that we can welcome the Lord’s return during our lifetimes. We truly should hold watchful prayer and wait for the Lord! I’m old. How I wish I could welcome the appearance of the Lord!”

I said, “That’s right. It’s a pity that many people know the Lord is coming soon, but they aren’t watchful in preparing and awaiting His return.”

Then, my elder cousin thoughtfully said, “We should truly watch and wait for the Lord’s return. I’ve been thinking recently that how we should ‘wait’ to be in accordance with the Lord’s will. And what does ‘watching’ refer to?”

Without thinking, I said, “I think that watching mainly refers to praying and reading the Bible often, working for the Lord diligently, and moderation in all things. Just as the Bible says: ‘And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming’ (1 John 2:28). Therefore, as Christians, we should be careful and mindful of ourselves like this every day. Then we will face the Lord with confidence at His coming. Now we keep on watching and praying in turn around the clock in our church, and we’ve also set up a watchtower. Only if we watch and wait like this will we not be abandoned when the Lord returns.”

Uncle nodded his head with satisfaction, saying, “Mm. Well done, but there’s more.”

My elder cousin said, “Dad, tell us about it!”

I looked at my uncle expectantly.

He said with a smile, “OK. Watching and waiting mainly refers to holding on to the Lord’s name and keeping His way. It’s because difficult times will come in the last days, people will love the world more than the Lord, and all kinds of heresies will appear. The Lord Jesus said: ‘Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect(Matthew 24:23-24). It tells us that the Lord asks us to watch. Most important is that we must guard against all kinds of heresies before the Lord comes to take us on a cloud. If anyone tells you that the Lord has returned, don’t listen to them or believe what they say. We must hold on to the Lord’s name and keep His way. If not, how could we be raptured into the kingdom of heaven?”

I listened and nodded in agreement.

My elder cousin thought for a while and said, “Dad, I have some different views on this.”

My uncle was a bit surprised and said, “Oh? Let’s hear it.”

My elder cousin said, “False Christs will indeed appear in the last days, but it will be also the time that the Lord returns. If we don’t listen to or believe any news of the return of the Lord, what if the Lord really comes back? Will we not miss the chance of being raptured? So, I think in this passage of scripture the Lord is reminding us to learn to discern so as not to be deceived by false Christs. We should not be blindly negative and passive to defend, but rather learn to discern and hear if it is God’s voice when people preach the Lord’s return. The Lord Jesus said: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him(Matthew 25:6). In the late period of the last days, we should be the wise virgins who pay attention to the voice of the Lord. When there is a cry, ‘the bridegroom comes,’ in other words, when people preach the news of the return of the Lord, we should seek and investigate to see if it is the utterance of the Holy Spirit or if it comes from God. Only in this way can we hear the Lord’s voice, welcome His return, and be taken up before Him.”

My uncle was silent and looked a little unhappy.

At this point, my younger cousin (my uncle’s daughter), who was helping in the kitchen, heard our talk. She came to us and said, “Dad, a few days ago, Sister Cai’s elder sister brought a witness of the Eastern Lightning to her home. The witness testified that the Lord has returned, expressed many truths, and done the work of judgment of the last days. Her reasonable fellowship and some of God’s newest utterances the witness read made us feel so good. However, Sister Cai drove them away because you once told her that all who preach that the Lord has returned do not speak the truth and must not be received. We didn’t think it was right for her to do so. How should we, in your opinion, treat those people when we see them preaching the return of the Lord?”

My uncle immediately turned his face from cloudy to bright, saying, “Thank the Lord! I think what Sister Cai did is absolutely right. It’s not wrong. Any Lord Jesus who does not come upon a cloud is a false Christ, a deceiver. Therefore, no matter who preaches the Lord’s return, we must drive him away. Isn’t this in line with the Bible? Can it be wrong?”

At this, my younger cousin felt what my uncle said was incorrect but she couldn’t put her finger on it, so she looked at my elder cousin expectantly.

My elder cousin calmly answered, “Dad, for so many years, we have been expecting the Lord to come back soon and take us to the heavenly home. The people of Eastern Lightning are preaching that the Lord has returned. He has done the work of judgment beginning with the house of God and has expressed all truths that purify and save man. We ought to be the wise virgins who seek and investigate with modesty. We should first listen to them and see if what they say is according to the Lord’s words. It’s not right to never exercise discernment but to drive them away.”

Uncle said confidently, “It’s quite right. The Bible clearly says: ‘They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory(Matthew 24:30). It can be seen that the Lord will come in the clouds. We haven’t seen this fact, so how could it be that the Lord has returned?”

Watch and Wait

My elder cousin said, “Dad, the return of the Lord is a major event! Isn’t it arbitrary to draw a conclusion based on a single scripture? The Jewish Pharisees at that time longed for the coming of the Messiah. They were familiar with the scriptures that prophesied the coming of the Messiah. However, when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, because He conflicted with their conceptions, they not only didn’t acknowledge Him as Christ, the Messiah, but even crucified Him. Hence, they became the arch-criminals who resisted God, and were punished and cursed by God. Dad, we should learn a lesson from them. We must be cautious about waiting for the Lord’s return! If we resist or blaspheme against God, we will be the modern Pharisees. The consequences will be unimaginable! We have never personally got to know whether Eastern Lightning is the work of God and the return of the Lord or not. We should ask people of Eastern Lightning to tell us something about it if we meet them again. It is not late to draw a conclusion after we have a thorough investigation. What do you think?”

My younger cousin nodded repeatedly, but my uncle was displeased and gave them a dirty look.

To lighten the atmosphere, I quickly said, “Brother, what you said is reasonable and matches the Lord’s teaching, but the Bible does prophesy that the Lord will come with clouds. How do you explain it?”

My elder cousin patiently said, “During these days, I’ve studied many scriptures about the Lord’s return. I found the scriptures prophesying the return of the Lord can be generally divided into two groups: One prophecies the Lord will descend in public upon a cloud; the other prophecies He will descend in secret like a thief. For example: ‘I will come on you as a thief(Revelation 3:3), and ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him(Matthew 25:6). In these scriptures we can see that there are two ways of the Lord’s coming: One is that He’ll come as a thief and no one knows it; the other is that He’ll descend upon a cloud and everyone will see Him. My personal understanding is that the Lord will probably descend in a hidden way to do the work first, and after He finishes the work, He’ll openly appear to all men. Just as when the Lord Jesus did His work, God became flesh as the Son of man and did the work of redeeming mankind through the crucifixion. After being resurrected from the dead, He openly appearing to man for forty days, and then ascended to heaven. It is a fact that everybody knows.”

My uncle retorted at once, “It’s wrong to say so. ‘As a thief’ and ‘at midnight’ mean that no one knows when the Lord will come back, but don’t mean that He will descend in secret.”

My elder cousin said sincerely, “Dad, my understanding of this is as follows: In many parts of the Bible it is prophesied that the Lord will return as the Son of man. For example: ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation(Luke 17:24-25). The Son of man refers to the incarnation of God. The Lord Jesus has clearly told us, ‘… so shall also the Son of man be in his day. … first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ If the Lord, as we imagine, openly appears to all men upon clouds when coming again, then He will not need to suffer, much less will He be rejected. So, I think when the Lord returns, He will probably first become flesh and descend in a hidden way. This is just as when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, no one recognized Him as the coming Messiah, but regarded Him as an ordinary man, rejecting and condemning Him. So, I think ‘as a thief’ and ‘at midnight’ refer to not only when the Lord will come, but also how the Lord returns as the Son of man in secret. What’s more, I think all scriptures prophesying the return of the Son of man refer to the Lord’s secret descent. This is because when God becomes flesh as the Son of man, man can’t recognize Him even if they meet Him, just like the Lord Jesus coming to do the work, and only in this way can it be called descending and working in secret. So, it is probably that the Lord will first work as the Son of man when He comes again, and then He will openly appear to all men.”

While pondering my elder cousin’s words, I thought, “That’s right. His words are reasonable. Why didn’t I ever realize it? It should be the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit!”

My younger cousin said, “Brother, your communication is really enlightening! I’ve read these scriptures many times; how come I didn’t realize that? It seems that I really have to ponder these scriptures diligently!”

Then my uncle murmured, “Wasn’t the Son of man the Lord Jesus? Hasn’t the Lord Jesus finished enduring His suffering? How could He return as the Son of man? It’s impossible! It’s absolutely impossible!”

I couldn’t help sighing, “According to this scripture, if the Lord really descends in a hidden way as the Son of man, it is hard for us to recognize Him!”

My elder cousin said, “Yep, if the Lord returns as the Son of man, He will also be resisted, condemned, and rejected by the religious community, just like when the Lord Jesus did the work. If that’s the case, we should be more careful when we watch and wait. If someone says that the Lord has returned, and especially the way that He preaches is condemned and rejected by the religious community again, we should even more seek and investigate it.”

My younger cousin sighed, “It seems that the return of the Lord is not as simple as we have thought. If the Lord really descends in a hidden way as the Son of man, then how should we watch so that we can welcome His return?”

My elder cousin said thoughtfully, “I don’t quite understand it, either. However, it has been mentioned in Revelation many times: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ I think we shouldn’t ignore all that is about the return of the Lord. Especially, we should even more carefully examine testimonies that the Lord has come and that He has spoken words and done His work. We should pray more, seek more, and discern whether it is the voice of the Lord or not. Once we make sure that the Lord really has returned, we should accept it immediately. As the Revelation says: ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me(Revelation 3:20). That’s what watching and waiting actually refers to. It will be the Lord Jesus’ public appearance when He returns with clouds. At that time, all men will see Him; will they need to watch and wait? Therefore, during the time when the Son of man does His work, we should pay attention to seeking the appearance and work of the Lord, and hearing His voice. Only in this way will we not miss the return of the Lord. What do you think?”

My uncle’s forehead was covered with beads of sweat, and he said to himself, “How could I have ignored this scripture? The Lord stands at the door and knocks? ‘And knocks’? Does He knock upon a white cloud? How could He knock upon a white cloud? I haven’t worked it out yet.”

My younger cousin said worriedly, “Dad, what my brother said makes sense. I’m a little worried now. We casually condemned Eastern Lightning without investigating it and drove away people of Eastern Lightning. If Eastern Lightning really is the return of the Lord, didn’t we resist the Lord in doing that? Haven’t we become the modern Pharisees?”

My elder cousin agreed, “Yes, that’s right! In the future, we must carefully investigate when we meet the people of Eastern Lightning testifying to the return of the Lord. We can’t blindly reject and condemn it anymore. Because the Lord Jesus said: ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(Matthew 24:27). Eastern Lightning itself relates to the prophecy of the return of the Lord. It is most likely the Lord’s appearance and work in the last days!”

My uncle said no more.

My elder cousin’s words reminded me of something, and I said involuntarily, “Oh! No wonder many leading sheep and good sheep in churches have accepted Eastern Lightning. It seems that Eastern Lightning is most likely the appearance and work of the returned Lord. We have to seek and investigate as soon as we can.”

My cousins nodded their heads.

At this time, I heard the cicadas chirping one after another. It was noisy but I felt quite comfortable, thinking it was really worthwhile to come here today.

“Time for lunch!” My elder cousin’s wife called. At this, we all went to have the meal happily. We talked cheerfully and joyfully during lunch …